The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus


Media: don’t abuse the word ‘abuse’

NFL Domestic Violence Football
In this Aug. 16, 2014, photo, Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice (27) carries during an NFL preseason football game against the Dallas Cowboys in Arlington, Texas. Ravens running back Ray Rice is sitting out two games for domestic violence. A positive marijuana test, meanwhile, means Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon will miss a full year. (AP Photo/Brandon Wade)

With so many players already receiving suspensions for the 2014 NFL season due to the use of PED’s (performance enhancing drugs) and illegal substances, one would think that players would exercise better discretion when attending social events and parties.

However, Tuesday, Denver Broncos’ slot receiver Wes Welker was suspended for four games for violating the NFL’s performing enhancing drug policy when he tested positive for “Molly.”

Welker’s suspension marks the NFL’s 29th related to the use of illegal substance or PED’s, compared to the two players suspended for “conduct detrimental to the league.”

Ravens’ running back Ray Rice is one of the two suspended for reasons other than the use of banned substances, and his suspension has been one of the more controversial.

Rice has been suspended for four games because of his arrest for domestic violence. Many NFL fans were angered by the shortness of his suspension when compared to Cleveland receiver Josh Gordon’s one year suspension for substance abuse.

The NFL received so much backlash for its inconsistent and seemingly arbitrary disciplinary policies that it amended its domestic abuse policy resulting in a six-game ban following the first offense and a lifetime ban after the second offense.

I say, good on NFL commissioner Rodger Goodell and the NFL for recognizing its fan base’s discontent and reacting accordingly.

However, I am disappointed in the media and their coverage of the NFL’s suspensions, including the specificality of Rice.

I wrote a piece back when the Rice incident occurred, stating that it is never okay for a man to hit a woman– the exception being if his life or others’ lives are in serious danger.

I stand by that sentiment.

I do think Rice should have received a greater suspension.

I do not, however, think his offense should be compared to substance abuse.

The general sentiment regarding Rice’s suspension was, ‘Why is the NFL considering substance abuse a more serious offense than domestic violence?”

The problem with this comparison was that those expressing their discontent often referred to Rice as a ‘woman beater’ and his case as one of domestic abuse rather than one of assault which is unfair.

All we know is that he hit his fiancee once, and knocked her unconscious, and as bad as that is on its own, if you couple it with the word ‘abuse’ you add the negative connotations of reoccurring violence, and it seems even worse.

Rice’s name has now become synonymous with domestic violence. He lost his cool once and made a terribly stupid mistake and he should pay for it.

However, he has been pegged as a ‘woman beater’ and I honestly don’t think he should be.

Words have a very powerful effect on our minds and dispositions.

As journalists we have a responsibility to use our words with the utmost discretion because they reach a much wider audience than most people’s.

Just the other day, a professor told me to be careful with my use of the word ‘legend’ in profiles because it leads the reader to believe that the subject has done something great.

In turn, we should be cautious when using words like ‘abuse’ and ‘abusive’ because they carry their own connotations.

I do not excuse Rice and his actions but I don’t agree in accusing him of abusive behavior without proof of recurring violence directed toward women.

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